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Cardiff

Cardiff. The capital of Wales located at the mouth of the river Taff. Cardiff was the site of a Roman fort constructed in ad 76, controlling the crossing of the Taff. But little is clear as to its post-Roman history. During the Dark Ages the Celtic St Teilo founded his church at Llandaff to the north and there is some slight place-name evidence of Viking presence. But it is with the coming of the Normans that the site was revitalized. Robert Fitzhamon set up his castle within the Roman fort. A settlement was established about the castle which became the military and administrative centre of the lordship of Glamorgan, and was protected by stone walls by the beginning of the 14th cent. A charter was granted sometime after 1147. Although large by Welsh standards, later evidence suggests a town of no great significance. Its population, estimated by the Hearth Tax of 1660–70, was some 1,600, and at the first census of 1801, with a population of 1,870, it ranked only 21st amongst Welsh towns.

With the beginning of the iron industry on the northern edge of the coalfield, Cardiff began its rapid growth as the main port, linked to the interior by the Glamorgan canal (1798) and then the Taff Vale railway (1840–1). But from the middle of the century, coal export rose to dominance, reaching 13.5 million tons by 1913. Cardiff was the world's premium coal port and its population rose in parallel with coal. In 1881, when its population was 82,761, it became, and has remained ever since, the largest Welsh town. By 1901 the population was 164,333.

The rise of Cardiff is intimately associated with the successive marquises of Bute, who owned great swathes of urban estate, initially by marriage, subsequently by purchase. The series of docks (Bute West, 1839; Bute East, 1856; Roath Basin, 1808; Roath Dock, 1887; Alexander Dock, 1907) was unique in Britain, since the development was provided by a single private estate. But financial pressures meant that provision was slow and exclusively for coal export. Cardiff never developed a general trade or a port-based industry.

Even so, its size, twice that of the next largest town, made it dominant in Wales. It became a county borough in 1889, was designated a city in 1905, and slowly acquired a new role as the Welsh metropolis. As the gradual run down of coal-mining led to the decline of the docks, Cardiff emerged as an administrative and financial centre and high-technology industries began to accumulate. Cardiff was transformed into a thriving regional city and, after its designation in 1955 as the capital of Wales, a significant administrative centre.

These changes were accompanied by a physical transformation. In 1897 Cathays Park, an area of some 58 acres, was purchased from the Bute estate and laid out as a civic centre. With local, regional, and national buildings, it is one of the most distinctive of administrative areas in Britain. The gift of Cardiff castle and its surrounding lands by the marquis of Bute in 1947 provided an extensive parkland in the heart of the city.

Internal reorganization has given four large shopping malls within the centre, the St David's centre having a major concert hall, whilst Millennium funds contributed to the national stadium. But perhaps the most significant development is that of Cardiff Bay, where the old docklands are being transformed in a characteristic ‘inner harbour’ development, which will see a barrage to provide a permanent waterfront and such buildings as a new combined theatre, opera, and museum centre. The population of Cardiff in 1999 was 315,000 (of whom 6.4 per cent spoke Welsh).

Harold Carter

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Cardiff

Cardiff (kär´dĬf), Welsh Caerdydd, city and county (1998 est. pop. 320,900), S Wales, on the Taff River near its mouth on the Bristol Channel. Cardiff is the capital of Wales and an important port. Until the early 20th cent. it was one of the greatest coal-shipping ports in the world. Modern industries include retailing, services, engineering, oil and gasoline distribution, and food processing. Studios of the British Broadcasting Corp. are located in Cardiff, which is also the center of the Welsh-language broadcasting industry. The construction of docks by the 5th marquess of Bute in 1839 stimulated the city's growth. The port includes the docks at Penarth and Barry. There is also a canal to Merthyr Tydfil (opened 1794), with a branch to Aberdare.

Cardiff Castle, the residence of the marquess of Bute until 1947, was first built in 1090 on the site of a Roman fort. Robert, duke of Normandy, was imprisoned (1126–34) in the castle. Owen Glendower partly destroyed it in 1404. In Cathays Park the group of public buildings includes the National Museum of Wales, the law courts, and the city hall. Cardiff Univ., Cardiff Metropolitan Univ., and a campus of the Univ. of South Wales are there. The former docklands of Cardiff Bay are now the site of the new Senedd (National Assembly) building and a multipurpose cultural center. The city also has a botanic garden. Llandaff, which has a notable medieval cathedral, has been incorporated in Cardiff since 1922. The parish church of St. John dates partly from the 13th and 15th cent., and the Museum of Welsh Life, on the city's outskirts, groups buildings from throughout Wales.

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Cardiff

Cardiff (Caerdydd) Capital of Wales and port on the River Severn estuary at the mouth of the rivers Taff, Rhymney and Ely, s Glamorgan. The construction of docks in 1839 led to the rapid growth of the city, and, until the early 20th century, it was a major coal exporting centre. It is the seat of the Welsh National Assembly and the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (1893). The Millennium Stadium hosted the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Industries: steel manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, food processing. Pop. (2002 est.) 279,500.

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Cardiff

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